Kalimbas (Tenor and Bass)


Left to Right: Tenor Kalimba and Bass Kalimba


The Kalimba originated in Africa and fits into a category of musical instruments known as lamellophones.  It consists of a number of tines (or tongues) suspended over a wooden box resonator.  The tines are held in position by a down-bearing lateral bar that causes one end of the tine to be free for plucking.  Plucking is usually performed with the thumbs - a distinction that has lead to the kalimba also being referred to as a thumb piano.  The other ethnic names for this instrument are mbira and sansa.


In maintaining the ethnic flavor of the original African instrument, a five-tone (pentatonic) scale is used that is centered on the tonality of D-Minor which consists of the following notes: D, F, G, A, and C.  The pentatonic scale has an amazing property in that there are no wrong notes.  Any combinations of notes or pairs of notes can be played and the music always sounds melodic and pleasant.


These modern day kalimbas are high quality, pitch accurate, professional instruments available in standard natural wood or black hammered finish. Optional finishes are available (see samples below), and sport yellow. The tines are buffed aluminum and the resonators are finished with a durable coating.

CCBANTA - Kalimba Keyboard (close-up)

Tenor Kalimba


Number of Notes: 11

Range: 2-Octave / D3 to D5 (Middle C = C4)

Scale: D minor pentatonic scale

Tine Width: 3/8"

Height: 2-3/8"

Length: 9"

Width: Tapered from 7-1/2" to 5-1/2"

Amplification:  High-Impedance disc piezo transducer

Connection: 1/4" jack

Weight: 1.3 lbs.

Finish: Natural birch with semi-gloss clear coat*

Cost: $175 plus packaging and shipping

*Inquire about different color and finish options.  See examples below.  Additional charge may apply



CCBANTA-Tenor Kalimba - Scale - Chris Banta
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CCBANTA-Tenor Kalimba - Sample Plucking - Chris Banta
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CCBANTA Tenor Kalimba - Playing by plucking

Playing by Plucking

CCBANTA-Tenor Kalimba - Sample Tapping - Chris Banta
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CCBANTA-Tenor Kalimba - Tapping Resonator Box - Chris Banta
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CCBANTA Tenor Kalimba - Playing by tapping with the finger tips

Playing by Tapping


Standard: Natural and Black Hammertone

Other Finishes: Call to discuss


Aluminum Carrying Case Option

A foam-lined aluminum carrying case is available that contains cut outs for two kalimbas.  If two kalimbas are purchased, the case is included at no extra charge.  (The cost for only the case with the foam cut-outs is $75 plus packaging and shipping.)


CCBANTA - Two Kalimba Carrying Case

Bass Kalimba

The tenor kalimba now has a companion bass kalimba, typically known as a marimbula.  It is a single octave with the 6-note pentatonic scale (D, F, G, A, C, and D). The lowest note is one octave lower than the low D on the tenor instrument.

Its larger size may be cumbersome to hold and pluck at the same time.  Therefore, marimbulas 

are usually sat upon and plucked.  The box acts like a cajon drum and can be tapped and slapped to add a rhythmic component to the plucking. 


Number of Notes: 6

Range: 1-Octave / D2 to D3

Scale: D minor pentatonic scale

Tine Width: 1"

Height: 16"

Depth: 11.5"

Width: Tapered - Top 12" / Bottom 16"

Amplification:  High-Impedance disc piezo transducer

Connection: 1/4" jack

Finish: Natural Birch with Semi-Gloss Clear Coat or Black Hammertone

Weight: 8.5 lbs.

Cost: $275 plus packaging and shipping


Bass Kalimba - Scale - Chris Banta
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Bass Kalimba - Improv - Chris Banta
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Bass Kalimba - Scale with Mallets - Chris Banta
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Bass Kalimba - Mallets Improv - Chris Banta
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CCBANTA - Size Comparison: Tenor and Bass Kalimbas

Size Comparison:

(L) Bass Kalimba

(R) Tenor Kalimba


Shown in Natural Finish

Bass Kalimba (Marimbula)

Shown in Black Hammertone Finish

Performing on a Bass Kalimba
Playing the Bass Kalimba with Rubber Mallets


Tenor Kalimba connected to amplifier

Tenor Kalimba shown with a 5-inch speaker-amplifier

Each kalimba comes with a built-in piezo-electric transducer pick-up and standard 1/4-inch jack that allows for the instrument to be connected to an instrument amp, powered mixer, or a studio mixing console.

(The amp and instrument cord are not included with the kalimba.)

Bass Kalimba connected to amplifier

Bass Kalimba shown with an 8-inch floor monitor speaker

Tuning Instruction Sheet

Kalimba Tuning Kit

Through continuous play on the kalimba, some of the tines/pitches may gradually “creep” out of tune.  This is a normal occurrence on mechanically driven and mechanically tuned musical instruments like the piano, guitar, violin, etc. The enclosed instruction sheet provides a simple method for restoring those out-of-tune pitches when they occur.


Tuning Kit Contents

  • Digital tuner (Model: Cherub® WST-675)

  • Small Rubber-Tipped Jeweler’s Hammer

  • Instruction sheet for tuning both Tenor and Bass kalimbas

Cost:  $50 


© 2020 by Chris Banta


T: (818) 599-8410